Boldly Going Where Plenty Have Gone Before

Not sure how I missed this for so long, but on Monday the Hollywood Reporter reported that G4 is drifting even farther from its video game focus by picking up syndication rights to Star Trek and Star Trek: The Next Generation. What’s more, the article suggests Comcast (G4’s owner) may be giving up the ghost and doing away with the “TV for Gamers” persona altogether.

Sources also suggest that “Trek” will be part of a Comcast effort next year to reposition the channel brand of G4, which struggled to establish itself as the TV home for video gamers, in a broader play for young male viewers. A name change also is being considered.

The article doesn’t name its sources, and G4 offered no comment, but the article’s author seems pretty sure that both Trek shows will start running on G4 by January 8. As for the re-branding and name change, the article suggests G4 might be hamstrung by existing agreements with cable providers:

In terms of G4’s channel positioning, Comcast has to walk a fine line lest it violate affiliate agreements for G4 with other cable operators that specify the channel focus on video games. However, video games will likely still be part of the mix at G4 given how popular they are with the young males the channel targets.

Those agreements will eventually expire, though, and at that point Comcast may cut their losses and morph into a into a Spike TV clone that’s more likely to please risk-averse advertisers and cable providers. This will be a shame, but not because G4 itself is a great loss — in its current state, it barely has any business being called a video game network.

No, it’s a shame because for years companies hoping to set up a new gaming network will be hindered by those who will point to Comcast’s experiment in how to ruin a decent network with a lot of potential and say “no thanks.” Never mind all the awful, pandering shows and general lack of focus Comcast showed in positioning the network… all anyone will remember was that it was a “video game” channel and it failed relatively quickly.

So a big “thank you” to Comcast for setting back the cause of a gaming coverage on TV for years. Hopefully Star Trek reruns will provide us some solace.

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